The Half-Way Point

May 27, 2015 | 3 comments

Invitation to a Hanging

Invitation to a Hanging

Last night was the fourth session of “Putting the Story Back in History” – the continuing education class I’m teaching at the Columbia Center, Grays Harbor College. As usual, I ran a few minutes over our allotted 110 minutes, even though I had timed myself carefully beforehand. Too many great questions; not enough time!

“Governance and Law and Order” was the topic and I made good use of some of our old Shoalwater Storytellers scripts, telling rather than performing such tales as “First Territorial Election,” “First Court Session” and “The Frederiksen Murders.” Even without being acted out, the accounts, themselves, contain enough drama to remain riveting though more than a century has gone by since they occurred.

The Hanging of Lum You

The Hanging of Lum You

And, as is so often the way with historical topics, there are as many unanswered questions today as there are ‘known facts.’ Perhaps that is the fascination to those of us looking for ‘the rest of the story.’ I wonder, too, how much the passage of time has changed our focus about what happened long ago. Even the first-hand newspaper accounts of subjects such as “The Hanging of Lum You” don’t always deal with the issues that seem of tantamount importance to us 114 years later.

After Class

After Class

I think the star of our session, though, was the huge, eight-and-one-half pound, leather-bound volume with the gold embossed title on its cover, “Prison Book, Pacific County.” I spent some time talking about it and people stayed a few minutes late to get a first-hand look at its pages. The names and particulars of each prisoner booked into the Pacific County Jail from April 1886 through December 1919 are recorded therein.

It was a fun class, if you can call some of the serious subject matter ‘fun.’ I have the uncomfortable feeling that the next four weeks will all seem a bit downhill from there. I hope not. Every aspect of our County’s history holds mystery and fascination… at least for me. My challenge is to infect my students with some of that magnetic appeal. Last night’s topic made it easy!

3 Comments

  1. Stephanie Frieze

    Last night’s class was thrilling! It was like old time radio! I loved I.

    Reply
  2. Stephanie Frieze

    Last night’s class was thrilling! It was like old time radio! I loved it.

    Reply
  3. Vicki Carter

    I love stories about murders and mayhem! So sorry I missed it!

    Reply

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